Regina King and her late son, Ian Alexander Jr., marked their love for each other with matching tattoos years before his death.
King, 51, and her son — who died by suicide at age 26 — got tattooed with the same Aramaic phrase before he left for college, the actress told Vulture in 2015. Both King and Alexander got matching ink that translates to "unconditional love."
"His is huge, from his elbow to his wrist, but he said, 'No, you can't get that size, Mom!'" she told Vulture at the time. "We considered different ones, but we felt this really embodies how we feel about each other."
King also opened up about their tattoos while appearing on The View in 2017. At the time, she explained that she and Ian got the idea to get matching tattoos after taking Kabbalah classes.
"He said, let's choose three [designs] each and not tell each other which ones they are and whichever one is matching, that's the one we're going to get tattooed — and we both chose unconditional love," King said.
King shared a statement with PEOPLE confirming Alexander's death Friday. He was her only son. She shared Ian with her ex-husband, Ian Alexander Sr.
"Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian," King said in the statement. "He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others. Our family asks for respectful consideration during this private time. Thank you."
King and her son enjoyed a close relationship, and the actress told CNN in 2011 that "the greatest part" about herself was "being a mom to Ian," whom she described as "an amazing young man."
Ian similarly shared a heartfelt message on Instagram to mark his mom's birthday last year. He posted a photo of the two of them smiling together, writing, "Happy birthday to my co, so extremely proud of you and inspired by your love, artistry, and gangsta!"
He continued, "To be able to watch you take this lifetime by its neck and make it yours is something i will forever be grateful for. But to have you as my mother is the greatest gift I could ask for. To be all that you are while always having the time to be there, love and support me unconditionally is truly remarkable."
He closed out his message by writing, "The whole marvel universe ain't got s— on you, your [sic] the real superhero! Love you mom! This day and everyday YO DAY!!"
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.